Understanding and Improving the Mental Health of Populations

This chapter reviews survey research on mental health of populations conducted over the last fifty years, with an emphasis on surveys that assess the mental health of whole populations. After a brief examination of the early history of mental health surveys immediately after World War II, the chapter examines two quite different but complementary approaches to assessing the mental health of populations. The first emphasizes the measurement of psychological well-being, while the second focuses on estimating the prevalence of mental disorder. This chapter includes an examination of the major studies conducted in each of these two research traditions and of how each approach evaluates the mental health needs of populations. Finally, an inventory of promising future directions for improving the mental health of populations is offered. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved) (from the chapter)